#gamechangers // The Munching Mongoose
I cannot wait to share this #gamechangers post with you! When Brad Meiring, co-owner of The Munching Mongoose, asked me to share a bit about their small business I was so excited because I knew that you would all love it! The Munching Mongoose is a small business that works together with local farmers and artisans in and around Johannesburg to provide the best seasonal, organic produce that can be delivered to your doorstep every week. Brad and his team are super passionate about getting the best seasonal, local, organic and craft foods into as many bellies and pantries as they can whilst encouraging people to fall in love with food. Understanding the food that we eat, sharing amazing home cooked meals with friends and family, and getting excited about what we eat is key to developing a healthy relationship with food. I have decided to feature The Munching Mongoose as this month's #gamechanger (it's been a while since I've had one of these posts), and I'm sure you'll love reading all about what they do. But before we get to the Q&A, I'd like to share a bit about my Munching Mongoose experience...
How it all works
I was lucky enough to try out one of The Munching Mongoose bags recently (this one was the perfect size for my husband and I), and really enjoyed trying out all of the delicious ingredients that we received. Each week the fresh produce contained in each of the bags changes, making life really exciting if you enjoy cooking and learning about new ingredients. On the list for my order week was:
1 Chinese cabbage
6 Free-range eggs
1L Milk (YUM!)
1 Broccoli (which I easily swapped out for zucchinis)
1 Pack Strawberries
6 Panini Rolls (the bread supplied each week changes, and these were delicious)
1 Cheese (Asiago, this also changes every week)
1 SURPRISE (we received a bottle of De Houtvat Cabernet 2016 and a bag of yummy Native chocolate treats)
The ordering process is relatively simple and straightforward. All you need to do is head to their online store, create an account for yourself, select the box or box option that you would like to order, select how often you would like to receive your order, and that's pretty much it. When you sign-up, you will be charged a fully refundable deposit of R250 to cover the price of the reusable bags/boxes/bottles that are used each week for your order. Every delivery they swap empty boxes/bags/bottles for full ones. "We love our planet, and so we use packaging with a very small carbon footprint and re-use as much as possible – such as crates, bags, and bottles – by swapping them each week when we deliver to you". Every Monday you will receive an email with a list of what will be in your bag or box that week, and you can easily log into your profile to make any substitutions for ingredients you don't want to receive or add on extra ingredients to your order. They have an amazing selection of meat, dairy products (the milk got a BIG thumbs up from my husband), bread, eggs, and pantry items that you can add to your delivery. The delivery day and time will depend on where you live. You can check out where they deliver and on what days on their delivery map here. Unfortunately, they don't deliver to Pretoria yet but let's hope you can look forward to this sometime in future.
I will be sharing a DELICIOUS recipe that I made using some of the ingredients that we received sometime later in the week, but in the meantime, I'll just share a few examples of how I used the goodies that came in our bag:
I used the fresh strawberries to make this strawberry chia jam, YUM!
I used the eggs to make French Toast using rye bread, chia seeds, cinnamon & vanilla powder
We enjoyed the 6 panini rolls at a braai before watching the Wimbledon men's final
I used the zucchini in a dish of roasted vegetables, along with carrots and mushrooms, for a lunch with friends
I have used the kale in smoothies, salads, and pretty much all the cooked dishes that we have eaten for dinner over the past week
I used the tomatoes to make a yummy Napoletana sauce for a vegetable lasagne (which also made use of some of the butternut and a couple of zucchinis)
As you can see it really is SO easy to use what you receive in your delivery. The best part is that you get to learn to work with and enjoy new foods, and with the Internet at your fingertips, it isn't even that difficult.
What is The Munching Mongoose, and what are you all about?
We are a small, passionate team that loves creating opportunities for families to spend more quality time together centered around amazing food. We work hard to get the best available seasonal, local and organically grown produce from small scale and emerging producers into as many pantries and bellies as we can. We also love wrapping this all up in our own quirky and personalized Munching Mongoose way so that we create an amazing and unique experience for our customers on a weekly basis.
What inspired you to start The Munching Mongoose?
My wife and I have always loved food, and when our first child was born I had a rethink about what was important to me and what kind of a father I wanted to be, what type of a role I wanted to play in my children’s lives and what kind of an impact I was going to make. At this same time, a good friend and I had similar ideas about providing a service and products like what The Munching Mongoose now offers. After chatting and bouncing some ideas around, we decided to give it a go. We saw an opportunity to do things a little different, offer a more comprehensive service and make it a lot of fun too. We piloted the service with just 12 brave people and then slowly but surely tailored our offering. The business steadily grew until we could see that it had real potential and at that point decided to give it a full go. And now here we are, still super happy, passionate and excited about what we are doing and we are slowly growing every month.
Who is Maningi? Tell us a bit about him.
Maningi is the Shona word for “plenty”. In line with wanting to create a cool experience for our customers as well as taking a different approach to the industry and wanting to make what we do fun, we decided that having a unique brand and a “mascot” would be great. Maningi is our Mongoose Mascot and we try and make sure that we offer plenty of fun, plenty of value and plenty of quality. Maningi is very identifiable and relatable to, and for kids, which means that it helps in bridging the gap and getting children a little more interested in the produce we are delivering and the food they are eating (and hopefully helping to create in their kitchens with their parents).
What sets you apart from other food delivery services? Why do you think consumers should give your service a try?
In an industry that is very much about health and the environment, and while this is the core of what we believe, we have taken a more “approachable” angle and want to make it more fun, convenient and about the experience. The “surprise” artisan product we include each week is also something different that we offer and helps to introduce families to so many of the amazing artisans who are creating the most brilliant products from all around South Africa and ensure that there is a balance between creating and living a healthy lifestyle as well as experiencing life and enjoying the good things. It is also often the case within this sector that the people who are working so very hard to create these amazing products and growing the phenomenal produce are not always the most efficient from a business or service delivery point of view. We work to remove this obstacle. We try and ensure that what we are doing is done in a very professional, efficient and convenient way. We have developed a unique online market and subscription platform, that makes the process very easy for our customers and requires very little ongoing admin on their part, but does not lock them into any contracts or long term obligations. We offer the authentic market experience and more, but without any of the potential hassles or inconveniences that might come with trying to do this on an ongoing and regular basis on your own. We consider our offering to be “rustic, but without the splinters”.
Are your products locally sourced and/or organic?
The products that we source and include in the boxes are all as local as possible. In most cases, the fresh produce is from within a 20 - 30km radius of our premises, although from time to time we will source from other neighbouring provinces or further away in South Africa if there is something really amazing and in season. All the fruit and veg is grown organically. Many of the farms are fully certified as organic, but not all. We work with several small-scale farmers that truly believe in what they are doing and are following organic principals, but at this stage do not have the means or funds to warrant going through the certification process. They are all, however, growing without chemical pesticides or fertilizers and do not add anything harmful during their growing processes. Non-GMO seed is used and heirloom where possible. Many of these farms prescribe to PGS – Participatory Guarantee System. This is a self-regulating system that ensures that everyone involved sticks to the correct and organic principals. Many of the farmers are also working towards getting their full certification.
All animal products – meat and dairy, come from free range animals with a primarily grass fed diet. Where feed is used to supplement the diet, it is non-GMO and as natural as possible. All the animals are happy animals and really loved and cared for. No routine antibiotics, growth stimulants or hormones are used. The products that we get from these animals are as close to natural as possible – and you can taste the difference.
The only products that are not always organic are the surprise artisan treats we include each week. While not necessarily organic these items do showcase the joy that is being created by amazing artisans from around the country and is in most cases free of preservatives and added nasties.
What has your biggest WIN been since starting your business?
The constant, amazing and engaging feedback we get from our customers is the best thing we could ever “win”. We are still a small company with a long way to go, but this type of positive interaction with our mongaggle members (mongoose family), is truly amazing and shows, that while we will always have something to work on and improve, we are at least on the right track… and playing our little part in making people happy, is awesome! As a result of one of these customers nominating us for the 702 and Sage One small business awards in 2016, we were fortunate to be entered into the contest, go through the process and even be selected as the winners. This was amazing and a very humbling experience for us.
What are some of your favourite ingredients to keep in your kitchen?
Olive oil – my beautiful wife comes from an Italian family so we could not do without olive oil and lots of it. We go through the stuff like it is water! It also then goes without saying that pasta (homemade or prepacked) and parmesan cheese too are always in our pantry and fridge. Coarse salt and black pepper are also great staples that work in almost every meal.
What is your favourite go-to meal after a busy day?
Pasta. It is so versatile and goes with pretty much any sauce or ingredients. Quick and easy, using any fresh and seasonal goods you have available you can make an amazing sauce and means that you almost never have the same meal twice. If time is really pressed, you can even just smother it in olive oil (see I told you), salt, cracked black pepper, parmesan and maybe a few basil leaves or other herbs from the garden – yum and super easy.
What are some of your favourite Proudly South African food products that have been featured in The Munching Mongoose boxes thus far?
Essentially every item, be it fresh produce or an artisan treat is proudly South African and lovingly produced. They are all amazing. The fresh crusty breads and local cheeses are incredible every week. We have had some really super products from small scale craft food artisans such as handmade truffles from a chocolatier called Tjoklit, a homemade salad dressing from Nezzi’s that is truly mind blowing, many locally grown and produced organic teas, oh and honey, don’t forget the amazing honey from the Honey Bear. There are just too many to mention and now I am salivating and getting hungry…
Are there any exciting things that we can look forward to from The Munching Mongoose in future?
The most exciting thing on the horizon is that we will soon be moving our burrow to new premises. We will be relocating and operating from an amazing and picturesque organic pomegranate farm from September. In beautiful surroundings like that, I have no doubt our amazing Munching Mongoose team will be even more inspired to come up with new and interesting ways to make what we are doing and offering even better.
We always work to keep improving what we are doing and offering new and interesting twists on the way we are approaching things. In terms of products, we will soon be launching some breakfast pack add-on options for your pantry that will be great and mean that we will be covering more and more of the basic food needs of households. There are so many other ideas brewing, but for now, we will keep a lid on those and keep everyone intrigued…